Ben Hayes writes: Regardless of where you stand on Israel-Palestine, things have surely gone awry in Brussels for the EU to be providing generous R&D (research and development) subsidies to Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the state-owned manufacturer of Israeli ‘drones’ and other ‘battlefield solutions’. Some of the grants are for IAI to adapt its killer robots for use within the EU. It’s a wonder David Cameron didn’t mention it in his crusade against the EU budget. Perhaps not: but how does EU tax-payers hard-earned cash end up in the hands of the Israeli war machine?
The EU’s framework research programme is the biggest single R&D budget in the world. The current “FP7” programme (2007-2013) has a budget of €51 billion; the next programme, “Horizon 2020” (2014-2020), will have somewhere between €70 and €80 billion. Israel joined the European Research Area in 1995 under the terms of a remarkably generous EC “association agreement” and participates in the framework programmes on the same footing as EU member states. This means it puts up some of the money (each participating state pays a proportion based on its GDP) and is eligible to apply for the funds on offer. With its buoyant R&D sector, few states have been as successful in landing EU grants as Israel (which is thus a net recipient of EU research funds) and the EU is now second only to the Israeli Science Foundation in Jerusalem as a source of domestic research funding.
Israel Aerospace Industries has been a principle beneficiary of the EU’s largesse. Established in 1957 upon recommendation of Shimon Perez, then Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, IAI is now a world leader in the booming drone market, producing the Heron, Hunter and Ghost, among many others – in 2010 its total annual revenues topped the $3 billion mark. Since Israel joined the European Research Area, IAI has landed at least 69 EU research grants. Because the European Commission is ostensibly prohibited from funding military R&D, most of these grants have come from the transport and aerospace budgets, where military and defence contractors play a leading role in developing new materials for aircraft and more efficient engines as part of the EU’s “clean skies” programme. The EU has also ploughed money into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs/drones), which it wants to see introduced into commercial airspace as soon as practicably possible. [Continue reading…]